Apple iMacs Feature IEEE 1394b FireWire 800

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) introduction of new iMacs with 1394b this week demonstrates that the 1394b standard, also known as FireWire 800, is gaining significant momentum, the 1394 Trade Association said. The two new members of the iMac line include two 1394 ports, one using 1394a (FireWire 400) and the other 1394b. Apple CEO Steve Jobs highlighted the presence of FireWire 800, indicating that 1394b is now on all iMacs. The new models each run on Intel Core 2 Duo processors with clock speeds of 2 GHz and 2.4 GHz, faster than earlier models. The system bus is also faster than in previous iMacs—800MHz compared to 667MHz. The aluminum enclosure for the iMac conforms with Apple’s Mac Pro and Mac mini products.

Apple holds about 21 percent of the retail PC market in the U.S.; analysts expect that figure to increase significantly this year and into 2009. Jobs indicated that Mac growth for the last four quarters is three times overall PC industry growth.

“Apple’s decision to incorporate 1394b into all of its iMacs is another indication of increasing momentum for the ‘b’ version of FireWire,” said James Snider, executive director of the 1394 Trade Association. “The storage product designers set the pace by adopting FireWire 800 for hard disk drives, and now, with this announcement from Apple, 1394b is in the mainstream.”

1394b delivers 800 Megabit/second bandwidth and can move audio and video up to 10 meters, while delivering the quality of service provided by the 1394 standard. It has been adopted by all of the leading providers of high end storage products this year, with high end hard drives from Seagate, Western Digital, La Cie and others gaining market share worldwide.

1394b silicon is now available at favorable prices. Texas Instruments Inc. offers a complete variety of 1394b devices, the TSB81 PHY and TSB82 Link series, including a mil-spec version. Oxford Semiconductor earlier this year introduced its OX936 series of devices that supports 1394b and hardware RAID with a peak performance of 250MBytes/s. Also last winter Agere Systems, now part of LSI Logic, introduced the first ICs that integrate 1394b with the PCI Express bus (PCIe) on one chip, its TrueFIRE(TM) device, providing designers of PC, notebooks and consumer electronic devices with a richer and more versatile feature set. “The introduction of 1394b in all iMacs is a major step forward in making 1394b mainstream in computer and peripheral equipment,” said Jalil Oraee, a founder and chief technical officer of Oxford Semiconductor.

The 1394 Trade Association is worldwide organization dedicated to the advancement and enhancement of the IEEE 1394 standard.